Show Car Dreams: The Art and Color of Sixty Years of Indoor Custom Car and Hot Rod Shows

Every so often a title comes along and knocks our socks off. But we’ve never laid eyes on anything the likes of Show Car Dreams: The Art and Color of Sixty Years of Indoor Custom Car and Hot Rod Shows. It is, hands down, the most definitive thing ever published about indoor car shows.

For the most part the title is reminiscent of Bob Larivee Sr., consummate promoter and founder of the International Show Car Association (ISCA) and Championship Auto Shows Inc., the current-day promoter of numerous events, including the esteemed Detroit Autorama. These are the stories about the near countless people, cars, and events that earned both organizations some of the most esteemed positions and some of the greatest successes in the hot rod and custom car world.

By way of contributions from writers and historians, the likes of Greg Sharp, David Fetherston, and Bill Moeller, this two-book set captures the contributions of both organizations over the years. And the stories are incredibly revealing in both their depth and breadth. It’s a given that such a book would showcase the main attraction of any car show—the vehicles—but what makes the title so captivating are the stories about the dozens of people behind the scenes. Larivee champions the judges, the promotion staff, the club members, and other contributors who made history by showcasing other people’s creative expressions.

The title is available in three configurations. The Limited Edition has the anchor of sorts, a 300-page, 600-plus photo book that tells the general story of indoor car shows. Its 28 chapters showcase the various stages in show car trends, including the many varied classes. Woven in with the stories about the van craze and celebrities are the stories about the numerous people who made the events possible: the judges, administration staff, and event promoters. It includes a velvet-lined black wooden case.

The Special Edition includes everything from the Limited plus the buyer’s choice of an additional chapter about a specific event. The shows available at the time of this press include the Grand National Roadster Show, the Detroit Autorama, and 10 more regional events across the United States and Canada. The Master Edition includes the main book plus a second, 200-page book about all of the optional shows from the Special Edition. It too comes in its own velvet-lined wooden case.

By dint of Larivee’s own productions and the car show industry’s nearly universal adherence to ISCA standards, the book covers an incredibly broad spectrum of events—so much so, in fact that the events themselves warrant a nearly 200-page book of their own. This is so much more comprehensive than an elaborate account of some regional shows; this is truly a history of pretty much every major indoor hot rod and custom-car event. These are the stories about the T-shirt painters, the monster truck exhibitions, and the celebrity appearances. If it happened at an indoor car show, chances are there’s a photo of it in here.

Make no mistake, Show Car Dreams is not an inexpensive set. The Limited Edition weighs in at $250 and the Master doubles that figure. But it isn’t without warrant. The sets owe their cost to several things: its incredible size (coffee table format and just shy of 500 pages for the Master set), impressive quality (beautifully bound card-stock pages presented in a wooden box), intense personal investment (more than 800 photos and enough research to make a seasoned historian shudder in the Master), and exclusivity (only 1,500 sets will be made). In fact, the first 300 sets include a VIP book signing at either the Grand National Roadster Show or the Detroit Autorama, a poster-sized lithograph of Don Ridler Memorial Award winners, a selection of available issue numbers, and free shipping. At the same time it reflects show-car practice: it’s big, beautiful, and entirely fascinating.

Show Car Dreams: The Art and Color of Sixty Years of Indoor Custom Car and Hot Rod Shows

Bob Larivee Sr.


ISBN 978-0-615387-34-5

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